New thinking on obstructive sleep apnoea

GP article published in Australian Doctor

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Sleep Disorder Prevention Tips for Night Shift Workers

All of us have an inbuilt biological system within the body that keeps us awake and alert during the daytime. Long-term deviation from this natural cycle can very easily lead to different types of sleep disorders.

If you have ever tried to sleep during the day, you must have experienced that it is extremely difficult to have seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. It may seem almost impossible to fall and remain asleep with so much of noise and other hindrances around. Even when you manage to find a quiet and cozy corner, personal relationships and family responsibilities can very easily play spoilsport.

People with a routine time for sleep and waking up regulate their biological hormones to initiate and maintain sleep well. When this normal schedule is switched too frequently, the body often fails to adapt to the changed pattern. Sleep disorder is common with many shift workers because their work and rest schedule keeps changing all the time and the body sleep rhythm cannot keep up with the changes. On average, it has been found that people working in night shifts have a sleep deficit of two hours compared to an average adult. This deficit exposes them to the risk of several long term health problems.

Finding the correct shift pattern for the body clock is extremely important for shift workers. If your job necessarily demands working in shifts, it is advisable to stick to a particular routine for at least two consecutive weeks. Always remember that working in rotating shifts is comparable to a never ending jet lag. Therefore, it really helps to have a relatively longer adjustment period between the different types of shifts.

Working in shifts is often associated with putting in extended working hours. If you end up working for more than eight hours, you are at a higher level of risk. Also, please remember that all individuals are different, and some people may find it relatively easier to adapt to erratic shift timings. You must be extremely careful about ensuring adequate sleep time, if your body finds it difficult to adjust to your shift pattern. In case of a serious sleep disorder, you may even want to consider working on a regular shift during the daytime.

If you are not able to change your shift time, here are a few things you can do to optimize your night shift schedule

  • Before starting your night shift schedule, gradually taper your sleep-wake cycle towards your upcoming schedule
  • Always take a nap before the start of the night shift
  • When you have the same shift for a few days, promote the natural cycles of the body by taking meals at the same time every day.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks in the later part of the shift because it may reduce your sleep hours after the end of the shift.
  • Use dark drapes or curtains at home to ensure adequate sleep and no light disturbance.
  • People living in a noisy environment may also use earplugs.
  • Try to remain fit by regular exercising, especially in the first few hours after waking
  • Try to get sunlight or outdoor light exposure soon after waking up and limit light exposure (e.g. with sunglasses) in the few hours before you want to sleep.

Tips to Fix Your Snoring Problem


Before finding a way to control your snoring problem, it is important to understand why we snore. The muscles in our throat  relax during sleep. Turbulent airflow then occurs through a narrowed airway causing vibration and shaking of the uvula and soft palate tissues to cause snoring.

Snoring is often associated with obstructive sleep apnoea, a breathing disorder in sleep where the airway closes off completely and the person stops breathing. This is turn is associated with a number of health conditions such as stroke and heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, low self esteem, and reduced libido. Work place or driving accidents can occur due to daytime sleepiness and lack of attention.  

Do you suffer from a snoring problem? Have you ever been teased by your family members and friends for your loud snoring during sleep? Well, you are certainly not alone. Nowadays, a high percentage of adults as well as minors are affected by this problem. There is no denying the fact that snoring can disturb others. However, snoring can be a clue to a serious health concern that demands attention. People with a snoring problem are more likely to be irritable and tired because it can also be associated with impacts on their own sleep quality. Moreover, the noise caused by snoring affects their sleeping partners. If left unattended, snoring can be a constant source of frustration and tension between the couples.

Some lifestyle factors exacerbate snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea. Being overweight, evening alcohol, smoking, and sleep deprivation are some of these factors.

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are treatable. Simple early lifestyle changes include:

  • Losing weight: even 10%  weight loss can have a big effect.
  • Changing sleeping position: in some cases, sleeping on your side will reduce snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea.
  • Stopping  smoking
  • Avoiding alcohol consumption before bedtime
  • Avoiding heavy meals at night

Often snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Clues to obstructive sleep apnoea include breathing pauses in sleep, gasping episodes overnight, daytime tiredness and sleepiness. OSA needs to be investigated and managed medically. You should visit your GP and be referred to a Sleep Specialist for further testing and treatment advice.

Sydney Morning Herald article 2 July 2017

Sydney Morning Herald article 2 July 2017

Commitment to Dental Education

Dental Sleep Medicine Seminars

Dr Desai has worked closely with Somnomed to host and lecture to groups of Dentists interested in treating obstructive sleep apnoea. Dentists are in a good position to identify obstructive sleep aponea in their patients and can work well with Sleep Physicians to provide co-ordinated care.

23/09/2016 - Multidisciplinary Dental Sleep Medicine Symposium at Pullman Hotel Sydney. Speakers included Dr Anup Desai, Sleep Physician, and Dr Nicholas Stow, ENT surgeon.

13/12/2016 - Dental Sleep Medicine Symposium hosted in Sydney Sleep Centre rooms

23/02/2017 - GP and Dentist talk on obstructive sleep apnoea and treatment approaches. Speakers included Dr Anup Desai, Sleep Physician, and Dr Geraldine Ash, Specialist Sleep Dentist.